Over the last few years more and more flashcard solutions are being created for all our digital gaming needs on our retro systems. The Spectrum has not been left behind in this department. The latest to fly through my letterbox is the DivMMC EnJOY! from Ben Versteeg of ByteDelight.com. The basic premise of these things is to create and combine an IDE Interface and a flash memory card to enable superfast loading times of all your favourite games and storage of in some cases 1000’s of games on one memory device.
The torment is still fresh in the mind of starting the process of loading a game, going to get a drink and coming back 5 minutes later to find a loading error. Obviously reliability was the key problem with old tape cassettes and I would say many of those cassettes in my collection have sadly passed their ‘sell by’ date and are now really only there for collecting purposes. Step forward to the DIVMMC and all the reliability and loading issues go away. Of course you can go the route of using an emulator on your PC or other systems but if you prefer the nostalgia of running games on real hardware then Ben has created a great piece of kit.
First thing I noticed was how well built the device is. Each one is painstakingly created by hand by Ben to perfectly match the look and feel of the Spectrum, even sporting the iconic rainbow stripe. This, however, is not Ben’s first Flash device, its predecessor was the DIVIDE, which is very similar to the DIVMMC but the newer device has been vastly updated and features a built-in SD slot, a Kempston 9-pin joystick port and also has 128k of RAM by default.
On the device you will see two green LED’s: one indicates the presence of power when its powered up and the other indicates access to the SD Card. Just below these are two blue buttons, one is to access the ESXDOS menu system and the other to hard-reset the Spectrum and reset ESXDOS. Located on the side of the device is a set of jumpers, which are used to set up the DIVMMC to the Spectrum model you aim to use it with. It’s compatible with the Spectrum 16K, 48K, 128K, +2, +2A, +2B, +3 ( all the setting are easily found in the manual supplied).
After preloading an SD card with 200 or so games (supported file types TAP, SNA, Z80 and SCR) and connecting the device into the Spectrum Expansion port, I powered up my Spectrum, which booted up into 48K Basic mode once ESXDOS checked and mounted the SD card. Now you can either select the NMI button on the DIVMMC to enter the ESXDOS menu and then navigate and load and games you have on the SD card or you can enter various commands to achieve various end results such as loading games with Load */games/gamename, for example. The supplied manual has all the instructions for using this method but, for the purpose of simplicity, I have stuck to the menu system as this works perfectly for me.
ESXDOS, though, is always evolving. As new versions become available, a simple update via the on board developer mode (selected via the jumpers) will update your device to the latest version that may fix any issues currently known such as long filenames.
This is a well-priced and well built product that has injected a new lease of life into my Spectrum gaming time. The DivMMC EnJOY! is a great device for any Spectrum gamers looking for a digital solution to their gaming.
Available in two versions, a bare version without a case HERE £44.99.
I was only able to test on a Spectrum 48K and a Black +2, there are some compatibility issues for later Spectrum models and thus I deducted 2 points from my original review. You can see these discussed HERE on WoS Forums.
Retro head and key holder of RVG.